Military veterans comprise the largest occupational group to be impacted by asbestos toxicity and its related medical conditions-including a fatal form of cancer known as mesothelioma.
The following six-part series is dedicated to them.
A highly hazardous carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent-asbestos was used in countless construction projects of every U.S. Military branch, with a particularly high incidence of usage within the U.S. Navy.
Decades after asbestos-containing materials were banned by the military across the board, thousands of vets have been diagnosed with a range of exposure-linked illnesses, incurring millions of dollars in medical costs and an immeasurable amount of pain and grief for both the service men and women affected and the military families forced to endure the tragedy along with them.
In PART TWO, we’ll discuss the reality of a typical prognosis for patients with mesothelioma, as well as some of the factors that can affect life expectancy after a positive diagnosis.
For patients with mesothelioma, survival rate is considered virtually nonexistent, by and large. Currently, despite steep advances in medical science, researchers have not found a cure for cancer. Even the most effective mesothelioma treatment methods can only produce what is called a state of remission, which is defined by the National Cancer Institute as a “decrease in or disappearance of signs and symptoms.” And even that potential is slim in most cases of the illness.
The Consequences of Late Diagnosis
Because mesothelioma is not usually diagnosed until it has already reached advanced stages, the extensive damage caused to affected organs-often reaching well beyond the point of origin, after metastasis-ultimately proves fatal for most anyone in its path.
The reasons for this high prevalence of late-stage diagnoses are at least three-fold. First, remember that mesothelioma takes years-usually decades-to develop; as a result, many individuals who are at risk are unaware of the potential for developing a deadly form of cancer and therefore are not vigilant about monitoring their health and looking out for the early warning signs. Secondly, the early symptoms of mesothelioma are ambiguous and often confused with those of much more common ailments like pneumonia, bronchitis or even the common cold; this leads to customary disregard of early-stage warning signs in both patients and doctors alike. Lastly, a lack of both adequate screening techniques and poor physician familiarity with an overall rare condition contribute to frequent misdiagnoses and failure to begin cancer treatment during the timeframe when it is most effective.
Variables Affecting Mesothelioma Life Expectancy
There is, however, some discrepancy in how long people diagnosed with mesothelioma live after finding out that they have the disease. While the average mesothelioma prognosis gives only four to 12 months of survival, that statistic is not without notable exceptions. Approximately 8 percent of patients do live for at least five years after being diagnosed, and a fortunate few have made it much longer.
Some of the most integral factors that affect estimated mesothelioma life expectancy include:
- –Stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis
- -Location of the malignancy
- -Cell type of the cancer
- -Treatment availability
- -Age and gender of the patient
- -Overall health of the patient at the time of diagnosis